Our heyday of iron and steel may be over, but we’re still chugging away as a boomtown for locally manufactured goods. What follows are six Chattanooga area makers who prove craftsmanship is alive and well in the Scenic City. From micro-batch spice blends to sturdy rock climbing gear to exquisite hand-sewn linens, these products are sure to boost your hometown spirit and economy.
PRODUCT:dish towels, aprons, table runners, potholders, and more Est. in 2013
Born out of Kathryn Allison’s passion for pattern making and inspired by her great-grandfather’s coastal Maine painting studio of the same name, Rangemark is Chattanooga’s art student-turned-entrepreneur success story.
What I enjoyed most was seeing my patterns come to life in a vivid, tactile way.” – Kathryn Allison, Founder of Rangemark Textiles
A 2013 graduate of Covenant College with a degree in art, Allison loved creating and drawing patterns but wasn’t sure she wanted a career as a fabric designer at a large firm. Already proficient in screen-printing, she decided to go it alone. She put the patterns from her sketchbook onto fabric and started sewing.
“That was the first moment where I was like OK, this is something I can make into a finished product and potentially sell,” she remembers.
Soon she was transferring her patterns to dish towels, napkins, table linens, and pillows. She sold them part time at craft shows, selling out every weekend.
“What I enjoyed most was seeing my patterns come to life in a vivid, tactile way,” she says.
Today, Rangemark products are made by local seamstresses in a shared creative space in the St. Elmo Fire Hall. Allison has her patterns block-printed onto organic linens, with all production done in Chattanooga.
Finished products are sold wholesale to retailers and displayed at trade shows, where Allison takes orders from buyers who stop by her booth.
“Because our products are handmade by individual women, you can see attention to detail in every single piece,” Allison says. Rangemark linens also perform just as well as those bought at a large retailer. In other words, they can be machine washed and dried without falling apart.
Goodhew & Sockwell
PRODUCT: lifestyle and therapeutic performance brand socks
Years of working in textiles showed friends Jim Markley and Thomas Lee there was a need for high quality, yet fashionable socks. A little research showed it could be done, and Heritage Hosiery in Chattanooga was the perfect place to knit.
The duo launched Goodhew, their sock brand designed for everyday living and active sports, in 2008, followed by Sockwell, a line of compression socks that promote circulation, in 2012. Today Goodhew and Sockwell have partnerships with 900 different retailers around the world. They can be found in specialty stores, comfort shoe stores, hospitals, and outdoor retailers like Rock/Creek Outfitters and Schuler Shoes.
Markley says Sockwell meets a need for fashionable socks that minimize swelling and reduce fatigue. “We joked that the existing compression sock business has two categories: ugly and uglier. What we’ve done is combine a custom performance yarn with beautiful colors and designs. It’s been an incredible success in that niche market.”
All Sockwell and Goodhew products are made with homegrown, superfine merino wool from sheep raised in the Rocky Mountains. The entire process—from design and super washing to spinning and knitting—is done in the United States.
The company’s VP of Design and Product Development, Mercedes Marchand, is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. “She’s constantly traveling to New York and Europe to look at colors and fabrics,” Markley explains. “She and Lee go into the mills and build the samples, then we have a merchandising session to decide what products we are going to develop.”
Est. in 2011
PRODUCT:all-natural, handcrafted sodas
In 2009, Matt and Tiffany Rogers were making all-natural soaps and candles in the Business Development Center when they realized most of their neighboring businesses had something in common.
“We were smack dab in the middle of all these inspiring foodies and food manufacturers,” Matt Rogers remembers. “That’s when we started wondering: was there a food product that would fit with our all-natural ingredient philosophy?”
His “light bulb moment” came two years later when he heard a woman order a lavender Italian soda at a coffee shop. “I thought to myself, that sounds delicious. Soda is nostalgic. It’s so American. What if we got real herbs, real spices, and real juices and started brewing syrup like they did 100 years ago?”
The couple partnered with Shawn Clouse, who had experience in home brewing and carbonation systems, and then launched Pure Sodaworks at the Chattanooga Market with a mobile soda fountain in July of 2011. They relocated operations to the NorthShore in 2012 and began bottling the soda in six flavors: Apple Pie, Café Cola, Hibiscus Lemon, Root Beer #4, Strawberry Jalapeño, and Honey Lime.
In 2013, the company’s “Café Cola” was a runner-up in Garden and Gun’s prestigious Made in the South Awards. Since then, the sodas have been shipped to stores and restaurants in Nashville and Knoxville as well as cities in Ohio, Florida, and Illinois. Celebrity chef Carla Hall plans to offer Pure Sodaworks in her new restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, when it opens later this year.
Not many brands have a very localized supply chain. We’re lucky the Southeast has so many old manufacturing bones.” – Kelsey Scott, co-founder of Granola
Est. in 2011
PRODUCT:backpacks, chalk bags, and accessories
After sharpening their sewing skills in a high school home economics class, brothers and rock climbing enthusiasts Kelsey and Conner Scott had an idea: Why not use their mother’s sewing machine to make their own chalk bags? So they did – again and again. Unimpressed with the quality of their original product, they kept redesigning until they got it right.
They soon relocated to Chattanooga from Nashville to attend college and be closer to some of the best bouldering in the state. They also invested in an industrial sewing machine and turned their obsession for creating the best bag into a business.
Today, Granola’s array of outdoor gear – which has expanded from chalk bags to include scout packs, sling packs, day packs, and more –is fashionable enough for the city, but rugged enough for the outdoors. The company’s products are now sold in 10 different states at 27 different retailers, including seven in Chattanooga.
The brothers pride themselves on using locally sourced materials to create the bags. “Not many brands have a very localized supply chain. We’re lucky the Southeast has so many old manufacturing bones,” Kelsey Scott says.
The fleece interior of each Granola bag is made out of recycled soda bottle fibers for a truly superior quality. “Let’s just say they’re not going to fall apart on you,” Kelsey Scott says. “We stand behind our products for life, so if anything ever happens to them we will repair them. That keeps things out of the landfill.”
Alchemy Spice Company
Est. in 2003
PRODUCT: freshly ground, all-natural spice blends
Alchemy Spice Company Est. in 2003
PRODUCT: freshly ground, all-natural spice blends
When a career in mechanical
engineering turned into a series of false starts, Chattanooga native Ben Gordon knew it was time to return to his first love: food. He bought Alchemy Spice Company from a local acquaintance and never looked back.
Today Gordon works out of a manufacturing warehouse off Dodds Avenue, where he uses a total of 54 ingredients to create his custom blends.
Alchemy Spice currently offers seven gourmet salts, two dipping oils, and 24 spice blends including the popular Cloud Nine (Chili Blend), Fat Elvis (Memphis Dry Rub), and Raging Monk (Spicy Thai Blend). All blends are created without excessive use of salt.
“We toast a few different ingredients before we mix, grind, mix again, and fill the bottles,” explains Gordon. “Everything down to sealing the bottle and sticking on the label is done by hand.”
Buy a typical spice at the grocery store and you might take home something two years of age or older. In contrast, Alchemy Spice products are made in micro-batches – about 120 bottles at a time – to guarantee the freshest product possible. “We make everything to order for the superstores so it is weeks old when it gets there,” Gordon says.
On certain weekends, you can find him at the Chattanooga Market or doing store demos. In partnership with 1885 Grill, he has even won the market’s Scenic City Wing competition twice with his very own Proud to Be (American Blend).
“It’s a little smoky, a little sweet, a little spicy.”
Good Fortune Soap & Spa
Est. in 2006
PRODUCT:oils, soaps, lotions, moisturizers, home fragrances, lip care products, and other spa items
In 2006, Jennifer Strain was working as an art director and photographer when she started to feel corporate life wasn’t cutting it for her creative needs. “I was working a lot and just didn’t feel passionate as an artist. I was praying about something to do,” she explains.
Her answer came that Christmas while she was perusing a book about soap making and aromatherapy for handmade gift ideas. Why not turn her hobby into a livelihood? She sold her home and invested the money in the startup. “I never even thought I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but it literally just hit me like a ton of bricks one night.”
Using her kitchen as a test lab, Strain began experimenting with hundreds of scent combinations for custom soaps. At her first open house, two Chattanooga gift shops placed orders for distributing.
Today her Broad Street storefront on the Southside is a boutique, spa, and manufacturing studio all in one. Up to 70% of the products sold are made in-house using 100% food grade olive, coconut, and sustainable palm oils along with organic shea butter and pure essential oils.
With products featured in Southern Living and Country Living and online orders placed from all around the Southeast, Good Fortune Soap & Spa is best known for its popular organic skin care line. “It’s made with organic aloe juice rather than water mixed with preservatives and fragrances, so it’s gentle and moisturizing without being greasy,” Strain says.